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ASEAN members should address online gambling issues

September 19, 2022 Philippines Crime & Legal

SEN. Maria Imelda Josefa ‘Imee’ Marcos said the Philippines and fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members should address the law and order issues linked to offshore online gaming.

The senator made the proposal amid the rising number of kidnappings and other crimes in the Philippines related to the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).

Marcos said her brother, President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr., has yet to decide whether to stop POGOs.

She believes that most of the tax collected from gaming operations was lost to corruption or what she described as ‘under the table’ transactions.

She cited the report that the government earned P4 billion to P6 billion in tax revenues. ‘But what I know is that POGOs earn at least P50 billion or more,’ the senator said.

The National Bureau of Investigation on Friday rescued 72 Chinese, two Taiwanese, a Malaysian and a Vietnamese during a raid in a POGO site in Cainta, Rizal. They were allegedly being abused by their Chinese employer.

‘We need to have an alliance with the Chinese police, Hong Kong police and inquire from them what was going on,’ Marcos said in Filipino.

‘As a matter of fact, there is an ASEAN security [framework],’ she said on Sunday. She added that the matter should be brought up during the ASEAN defense ministerial conference.

‘So, this matter should be discussed with Malaysia, Cambodia, and Burma. The whole ASEAN. That’s all our problem,’ Marcos said.

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Thursday expressed the need to discontinue the POGO program because of its ‘social cost.’

He stressed this during the Development Budget Coordination Committee briefing on the proposed P5.268-trillion budget for 2023 requested by the Senate Committee on Finance led by Sen. Juan Edgardo ‘Sonny’ Angara.

The Finance chief pointed out that the total POGO revenue plunged to P3.9 billion in 2021 from P7.2 billion in 2020.

‘In fact, China has discontinued POGO. Even Cambodia. It also has reputational risk. People will ask why are they going to the Philippines, it is discontinued in China. Why are they going to the Philippines? Maybe because we are loose, we are not strict on our rules,’ Diokno said.

Sen. Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr. noted that Chinese employed by POGOs were involved in criminal activities.

‘We cannot deny that the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators, also known as the POGO industry, has helped local businesses and boosted our tourism industry,’ the senator said. ‘We are not condemning the industry, what we are condemning is the seeming lawlessness that pervades the industry.

Source: https://www.manilatimes.net/2022/09/19/news/national/asean-members-should-address-online-gambling-issues/1859015/amp
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